12 Thu

The most effective and functional weight-lifting exercise

The most effective and functional weight-lifting exercise

Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CGFI


If you wanted the most bang-for-your-buck exercise, one that worked multiple large muscle groups and could help you lose weight and move better, what would it be?  It would have to be a large movement to incorporate multiple muscles.  It would have to be somewhat taxing to place a load on your cardiovascular system.  And it would have to be functional to help improve your ability to move around in everyday activities.

That ONE exercise?  The squat.

I’ve written about the squat before, I started two years ago with Show me your squat and Correct squat foot position.  A video on the New York Times Health section brought up the squat again and its effectiveness as an exercise that addressed many problems.

Because the majority of the time we spend sitting throughout the day, we sit on our largest and strongest muscles, our glutes.  With constant pressure and body heat, it tends to get weak.  And weak glutes have been linked to knee pain and back pain.  It places more strain on our body when we try and get up out of a chair or lift something up off the floor when our glutes are weak.  The squat works on the glutes, but also incorporates the thigh muscles, the quads and hamstrings; the back postural muscles; and some of the calf muscles as well.  That’s a lot of muscles for one exercise.

Because it works a lot of muscle groups, if you were to do a high number of squats, you would start to incorporate your cardiovascular system.  As part of an interval program, you could get the benefit of a long treadmill or bike session, in a short amount of time.

Squatting properly is important, learning how to move properly can take a lot of strain off your back or your knee joints.  Getting up off a chair or toilet, or picking something up off the floor, are important functional movements that we do in everyday life.  If we can squat properly, those functional movements become easier and less demanding.

So you can see how this one movement is so important and effective in our ability to move efficiently and pain free. This is probably one of the first things I ask people to do when they come to see me.  Can you squat?  If you can’t squat, how can you pick something off the floor or get out of a chair correctly?

The body is great at finding ways to get from point A to point B with the least amount of effort and energy.  That path, however, is not always taken correctly.  The body is about movement, it’s not about activating the correct muscle at the correct time, or keeping joints in proper alignment.  Please refer to my previous posts before you engage in any squat program.

But you can’t deny it.  The squat is an effective and important exercise.

If you would like more information, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit us.



Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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